Second round of Astana talks to be held next week

Astana Talks on the second day, 24 Jan

The second round of the Astana ‘peace talks’ are to be held next week in the Kazakh capital the country’s foreign ministry announced on Saturday, bringing together the Syrian government and opposition groups once again.

“It is planned to hold the latest high-level meeting within the Astana process on resolving the situation in Syria on February 15 and 16,” the ministry said in a statement.

UN envoy Staffan de Mistura and the US observers are also expected to participate in the meeting that is being brokered by Russia and Iran and Turkey.

According to reports Syrian Kurdish officials from the main Democratic Union Party (PYD) and the autonomous region in the country’s north have not been invited.

Previous talks on 23-24 January were expected to see the first face-to-face negotiations between the regime and the armed opposition since the conflict erupted in 2011. However the opposition refused to participate in the meeting in face-to-face discussions. Facilitators Russia, Iran and Turkey have agreed that the rebels should take part in UN-led peace talks beginning in Geneva on 20 February. Also, a a joint declaration was released by the three mediator countries.

Observance of the ceasefire and stabilisation measures for specific areas and other “practical steps” will be discussed at Astana ahead of the talks in Geneva, Kazakhstan foreign ministry said.